Choosing the right vendor for your payroll needs

August 4, 2020 | David Daly 5 Mins read

Selecting the correct global payroll provider vendor to partner with is an important part in managing global payroll operations at a multinational company. You need to be working with a vendor who understands your business needs and strategic goals so that they can deliver what you need in a consistent manner.

It goes without saying that they must have a lot of experience, qualified personnel and a level of payroll industry expertise to be in a position to deliver global payroll accurately and on time in a pressurized business environment.

In this article, we will explore some of the things you need to consider when deciding whether or not a vendor is the right fit for your business needs and ambitions when it comes to global payroll. They may have an impressive track record and give an excellent pitch, but global payroll professionals everywhere can tell you lots of stories about vendors who appeared to be very good on the surface, but failed to deliver when it really mattered.

Business Approach

It always helps to work with somebody who is on the same page when it comes to business approach- a vendor who has a similar outlook to the way in which things should be done. This sometimes falls into the category of ‘cultural fit ‘- so you need to investigate and be convinced that your vendor of choice aligns to your overall company philosophy and culture. It may not be realistic to expect an exact match, but you will be able to spot any key differences in attitude- and these differences should be a red flag as they tend to manifest as operational difficulties further down the line.

Both parties will need to work together to achieve a common goal so it is always a good idea to establish some baseline shared standards that can prove to be a good road map for a future working relationship. Communication, honesty and accountability (especially when it comes to mistakes or errors) will form a key part of these standards. You should ask some very pointed and considered questions that require very specific responses in order for you to get an idea of where their values lie around these three issues.

Define Your Needs

Confusion is no good for anybody, so it is best to clearly articulate and define your needs right from the outset. Any capability issues or difference in mindset will become clear as the vendor responds to your clearly defined set of needs. Some of the things it helps to get really clear on include:

    • Service, support and cost
    • Roles and responsibilities -who will deliver what and when?
    • Query response times and escalation processes
    • Dispute resolution
    • Communication, feedback and catch ups- weekly, monthly, quarterly?
    • Method of communication and key personnel involved
    • KPIs, report metrics and performance measurement

Decide What Establishes Trust

Every vendor needs to be given time to prove themselves, especially when they’re dealing with a new client in a new country. But there are things you can do to help establish trust with the vendor and it starts with first deciding yourself, what constitutes trust? Think about what you value in a vendor in terms of performance, consistency and communication.

Do you feel like you are getting the whole truth when it comes to any issues or discrepancies with payroll operations? Are you satisfied that you are being listened to and that any responses from the provider reflect this? Are there any indications that they have taken the time to really understand your business needs- are they able to identify and explain how you differ from the range of other clients on their books or are you simply a number?

Actions speak louder than words and you will receive the answers to these questions in the day-to-day performance of the vendor as well as how they communicate with you. You will quickly discover whether they are capable or even interested in tailoring certain aspects of their service towards you and your needs or whether they simply adopt a one size fits all approach.

If the vendor is successful in establishing the required level of trust with you, then you are on the road to a happy and productive relationship that has a good chance of surviving in the long term. If this is not the case, then you may wish to look around and assess your options -there are a lot of payroll provider vendors out there, so tap into your network and see if another option works better for you.

Technology Stack

Innovative technology is beginning to define how global payroll is delivered at multinational companies today, so it is very important to get a clear picture of the technology available and used by a prospective vendor. This is of particular importance if your company has aggressive expansion plans and is looking to scale into new regions and territories.

“Organizations of all sizes are commonly expanding operations to new international locations and require payroll solutions that can support growth and scale in emerging geographies”

Next Generation Payroll Services. NelsonHall HR Services, March 2019

You will need strong reassurance that you can deliver global payroll in these new territories and that your partner vendor network uses a technology stack and global payroll delivery model that is capable of keeping pace with any new demands.

You should be looking to understand how they deploy technology to help them deliver day-to-day global payroll along with wider operational goals such as control, visibility and efficiency. If a vendor is relying on dated or legacy technology, they’re unlikely to be agile enough to operate with the kind of flexibility needed to change course at short notice. Some key questions you should be asking them include:

    • What are the integrations capabilities of your platform?
    • Do you use any automation technology for payroll data inputs?
    • What kind of reporting can you deliver?
    • Are your data transfers secure? What data protection measures do you have in place?
    • Do you operate in a cloud-based environment or rely mostly on office?
    • Is your calendar digitized with built-in alerts?

Technology impacts everything: data transfers, payroll input calculations, checking and validation, meeting deadlines, compliance and regulatory requirements as well as data security and information protection. You can see why it is absolutely crucial that your vendor has moved with the times and invested in robust, secure and innovative technology capable of delivering payroll for an expanding global multinational.

Remote Delivery

A global pandemic has changed the office working landscape and the manner in which business critical services are delivered for the foreseeable future. Learning about a vendor’s remote delivery capabilities has suddenly become a very relevant question that requires a detailed and structured answer.

Global payroll continuity has become vitally important for business stability and employee morale, so it is important to ask questions of the vendor around their continuity and emergency procedures as well as the ability of their payroll professionals to communicate and deliver services remotely. We don’t know what the next global event likely to have a major impact on the worldwide economy is going to be , but we do know that we have to be prepared with strong remote capability so that business as usual can continue under extreme circumstances.

From a global payroll perspective, it is important to know that vendors and their staff can access all continuity procedures and payroll data in a non-office environment. They need to be able to switch tasks quickly and easily between people in different countries and ensure that all their data protection measures work properly in a remote environment. Ask them how they handled global payroll during the Coronavirus, what key learnings they took from this period of instability and what their payroll continuity and risk mitigation measures are.

Payslip and Vendors

Payslip has extensive global payroll industry expertise and we have developed a strong and broad network of global payroll vendors over the years. We have examined their capabilities particularly when it comes to platform integrations and innovative technology.

We have introduced many clients to our vendor network, and we specialize in helping multinational who are scaling into new countries, find a suitable and qualified in country partner to help them deliver their global payroll.

Many of our network are already integrated with our Payslip platform, so we can help you on board a new vendor in a relatively short period of time so that both you and the vendor can begin to benefit from the range of features on our platform that help with the delivery of global payroll. These features include automation, standardized data and processes, global consolidated reporting, digital payroll calendar and employee data self-service tools. Talk to our team today about our vendor network and global payroll platform.


logmein logo

Using Payslip, we can manage all our payrolls across nine in-country vendors on one platform. When the global Covid-19 pandemic arose, it was not an issue from a payroll perspective, and critically getting everyone paid. The Payslip platform enabled continuity for our international payroll service including the fast and seamless implementation of the Payslip Employment Self Service during this time.

Colin Smith

Payroll Manager, LogMeIn

With business and employee growth rates of above 50%, we rely on our vendors to deliver on time, every time. Payslip’s workflow automation, enables Phorest to manage our payroll provider process – data driven, real time and transparent. Payslip saves us time so we can focus on our business growth.

Ana Kelly

International Payroll Manager, Phorest